Talk to Children About Electrical Safety
Children often do not understand the danger of electricity and electrical equipment. In their innocent and imaginative minds, what can be potentially dangerous may go unnoticed, or even appear enticing and fun. Take an opportunity to point out overhead power lines and any other electrical equipment to children and explain what they are.
Safe Electricity recommends teaching children to follow these rules:
- Never climb trees near power lines. Even if the power lines are not touching the tree, they could touch when more weight is added to the branch.
- Fly kites and model airplanes only during good weather conditions in large open areas like an open park or a wide field. They should stay away from overhead power lines or other electrical equipment such as substations. If a kite gets stuck in a tree that’s near power lines, don’t climb up to get it. Electricity can travel down kite strings or wires. Contact your electric utility for assistance.
- Never climb a utility pole or tower. The electricity carried through this equipment is extremely high voltage and could kill you.
- Don’t play on or around pad-mounted electrical equipment. These are often green metal “box” transformers on cement pads.
- Never go into an electric substation for any reason. Electric substations contain high-voltage equipment; even raising your hand inside one can cause an arc that may result in an electric shock. Never attempt to retrieve a pet, ball or any toy from these areas. Call your electric utility instead.
- Immediately seek shelter if lightning or thunder is present while playing outdoors.
When designing a tree house or outdoor play area for children, take preventive precautions before starting your project. Do not install playground equipment or swimming pools underneath or near power lines. Installation of either will require some digging; be sure to call your local underground utility locating service to have buried lines marked so you can avoid serious injury and damage.
Protect all family members from serious shock and injuries by installing Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) on outdoor outlets and in interior room where water is present. GFCIs shut off power instantly if they detect a problem. Use portable GFCIs for outdoor outlets that don’t have them. GFCIs are affordably priced at hardware stores.
Be careful using electric appliances outdoors, even if plugged into GFCI-equipped outlets. Never touch an electric appliance while in a pool or hot tub and keep all appliances at least ten feet away from pools, ponds and wet surfaces. Teach kids that it is never safe to swim in a pool or lake when a storm is brewing. Also keep in mind that you should never use appliances with extension cords that are frayed or damaged, and always be sure the ground prong is intact.
Water often attracts kids, but water and electricity never mix. Teach older children to exercise caution before plugging in a radio, CD player, or any electrical gadget outdoors, and never leave any electrical appliances outside.
When you are done using a radio, CD player or any other electrical gadget outdoors, bring it inside with you. If it rains, the electrical device could get wet and cause an electrical shock when used later.
Spring showers bring more than tempting puddles for kids to splash in, they can also leave electric hazards behind. Flooded areas are never safe spots to wade or play in, and may be in contact with energized electrical equipment or fallen power lines.
Make sure all of your family members know to stay away from downed power lines and wires, and tell children to report any fallen or dangling wires to an adult. Downed power lines are extremely dangerous for children as well as adults. Always assume that any power line is fully charged and stay far away. Call your local electric company immediately if you or your child encounters a downed power line, and include this number with other posted emergency phone numbers.
On a hot, summer day Stephen Wald, his two boys and their friend found themselves caught in a terrifying thunderstorm. They ended up only seconds away from being in an accident with an overhead power line brought down by the storm. They encourage you to check weather forecasts so you can plan to stay inside when a storm threatens, seek safe shelter in an enclosed building or vehicle if caught in a storm, and to stay far away from any downed power lines.